Saturday, March 28, 2009
Wednesday, amendments to placeholder AB 372 were introduced by sponsor Asmb. Fiona Ma. The amended version is now online. CARE has also issued a memo, dated March 26, discussing the updates. The amended bill is clean but has problems.
According to the CARE memo, CARE and the California Association of Adoption Attorneys (CAAA), which (surprise!) opposes access, met with Asmb. Ma on March 24 to hash out changes which now includes a pushback to 25, the age at which adoptees can receive their original birth certificates. It also includes a contact preference form, and an extensive medical questionnaire.
How and why this age qualification developed is a mystery. I believe, however, it is related to the 1984 "birthparent" disclosure veto as well as young adult "reunification" concerns amongst paternalistic "child welfare" professionals who feel a dubious need to monitor their former charges and to protect them from reuniting with allegedly dysfunctional families at a legal, but "too early"age. Neither issues should concern the right of adopted adults to their own birth certificates, but apparently they concern the Professional Adoption Class, California Division.
CARE says in its memo, without comment, that the age qualification was recommend by CAAA. In its statement, CARE is unclear about whether it agrees with the eligibility requirement or if it will try to lower the age to the normal 18 (or 21 tops). The sound of silence suggests agreement and should be added to the list of questions Maryanne Cohen posted here the other day, which still remain unanswered.
From the memo:.
CAAA and others present (note: not named) recommended the age be raised to 25 years and a confidential intermediary be utilized before a record is released. CARE is opposed to a confidential intermediary and explained our opposition to this concept. Ma agreed on aging the age limit but did not accept the intermediary.
CARE and Asmb. Ma rightly rejected the CI "recommendation," which would let bureaucrats track down "birthparents" to get consent for release of obcs, gutted totally the intent of even compromised legislation, and continued to infantilize California adoptees. CARE to its credit has stated from the beginning that the CI was humiliating and unacceptable.
Amended AB 372 also includes a long section on contact preference form (cpf) language taken from Oregon, and strangely, the entire text of a medical questionnaire offered to "birthparents," who submit a cpf, taken from New Hampshire's questionnaire. I say strangely since in every other state with the cpf, the language was not written into legislation, but developed by state agencies after passage of the law. Putting the questionnaire in the bill seems a bit of nitpickery and is counterproductive to the message of rights restoration. But then, by its own admission, rights is an unwanted and uncomfortable concept and strategy for CARE.
Speaking only for myself, I don't like the cpf, (originally a bargaining chip, and now SOP), and I like even less medical history requirements. They dilute adoptee rights, are bad politics, and dangerous. The cpf can be amended into a contact veto--or worse--even after a bill becomes law. No one has a right to someone's else medical history. The medical history inclusion, especially in its current extensive and intrusive form, sends up a red flag that access could be amended out, and the bill re-written as an anonymous medical registry bill. The language, codified in law could also be more difficult than regulations to change.
Amended AB 372 also lacks a mechanism by which adoptees born in California but adopted elsewhere can obtain their obc. There is no mention of access for the descendants of deceased adoptees.
AB 372 is an improvement over its placeholder forerunner. Asmb. Ma is listening to our input and the rights argument. That's a good thing, but it's not over yet.
Of course, Save the Children would never want anyone, aka Madonna, to think that it thinks the singer is up to no good:
'Please think twice,'' Save the Children spokesman Dominic Nutt said, explaining that many of the international adoptions that occur around the world are unnecessary.
Nutt said he was not suggesting that Madonna was doing anything wrong -- but he said the whole process of international adoptions is often flawed.
''I would not want to, for one second, suggest that Madonna hasn't done anything by the book,'' Nutt said. ''But sometimes the book can fail.''
Madge's spokesperson, Liz Rosenberg, says Madonna will not comment on Save the Children's suggestion.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Madge has suffered long for this moment in material motherhood. Back in August 2008 Madonna and then-husband British film director Guy Ritchie, seen here looking pretty unhappy, were set to adopt Mercy, (at least according to Madonna; Ritchie's enthusiasm was said to be not so high )
when Madonna decided suddenly to put her energy into keeping her marriage afloat or as an anonymous "close family friend" told The Sun (OK, not the best source):
The adoption process in Malawi is so long and stressful that all the legal wrangling put a huge strain on their marriage."
“They dropped proceedings to pour all their energies into each other. But Madonna now feels they are stable enough to press ahead with the adoption again.”
Oops! So much for stability! Three months later, in November 2008, a British court granted Madonna a preliminary divorce decree. While waiting for solicitors to divvy up the dump money she'd have to pay out to make Ritchie go away, the tabs reported wrongly as it turned out, that Madonna was readying for a Malawi fly-by with new beau, Yankee superstar Alex Rodriguez to pick up Mercy. Around the same time Madonna was busy energizing her marriage, A-Rod's wife of six years, Cynthia, the mother of his two children, the younger only 3 months old, was busy filing for divorce on grounds of "emotional abandonment" and infidelity over a bevy of her husband's extramarital affairs.
Since then A-Rod has gone the way of, among others, (in no special order) Sean Penn, Tony Ward, Jellybean Benetiz, Dennis Rodman, Vanilla Ice, Warren Beatty, sperm donor Carlo Leon, and Ritchie. Newest boy toy, Brazillian model Jesus Luz, 22 (left) (no Madonna and Jesus jokes, please!) got the heave-ho a couple weeks ago, possibly after squicked Malawian adoption officials objected to the mother-to be's dating habits.
According to Malawi's child welfare officials, via Monday's New York Daily News,":
Our official policy is that we do not encourage our children to be sent into broken homes," said a senior official from Malawi's Ministry of Women and Child Welfare Development"
Noting her split from hubby Guy Ritchie. "[Madonna's] relationships may negatively affect the adoption of Mercy," the official said.
"The news she is linked to another woman's husband and a young man less than half her age makes us question her morals."
Officials are unhappy the 50-year-old Material Mom, who adopted toddler David Banda in Malawi in 2006, flaunted her relationship with Luz in a recent racy W Magazine spread.
Simon Chisale Malawi's child welfare chief, said morality plays a big part in the adoption process. "We do not only look at the material issues, but also the moral standing of prospective adoptive parents, because we do not want our children's morals to be corrupted," Chisale said.
No mention of Chisale, who seems rather chummy with Madge, snickering up his sleeve while making the last remark. But who really wants to smack the fingers of the world's most famous woman, whose got a mansion full of money, and deny her the "right" to "be a mother"?
Still, he said he doubted Madonna's social whirl would affect the outcome of her adoptive process. We do not apply the law retroactively," he said.
Well that's a relief ! We wouldn't want Madonna's brand new unheard-of-before-her-divorce "social whirl" to get in the way of adoptamotherhood. And, happily for Madonna, the now single mom (for the time being), with the rubberstamp of the Malawian government, is able to work Mercy into her busy schedule. Some lucky little girl, that little Mercy James is!
Mercy James' 18-year old mother died 5 days after giving birth to her and it's unclear if her "schoolboy" father is still alive.
The People, October 7, 2007: (not to be confused with People Magazine):
But in a devastating blow to Madonna's dream, Mercy's defiant uncle John Ngalande insisted that the 20-month-old girl will live with him.
Speaking from Malawi, John told The People: "I would rather we be poor and struggling with Mercy, than for her to go and live with a big white star far away."
Mercy was put in an orphanage when her 18-year-old mother Mwandida Maunde died. Her father was a schoolboy and has played little part in her life.
John, 36, revealed that he always expected the tot would eventually live with him and is outraged at the thought of her being taken away by 49-year-old Madonna.
John said: "We were told when Mercy went into the orphanage that we would be in constant contact with her and that she would come back to us after six years. I would like to stick to that.
"Whether it be Madonna or any other white person, I'm against our child being taken away."
(Bastardette: Note that this arrangement was initiated while Madonna was still undergoing investigation over irregularities in David Banda's adoption.)
The Sun, August 13, 2008 (story picked up and widely distributed):
However, the girl’s gran Lucy Chekechiwa, 60, said she has been asked repeatedly by officials if Mercy could be adopted by an “unidentified foreign family” — but was firmly against it.
Speaking from her village in Zomba District, Lucy said: “We know that it is Mercy who Madonna really wants. We heard it is because my granddaughter is such a beautiful, happy child. “Twice I have told the adoption people that I do not want Mercy to go outside the country. “But they keep on at us. Now they say that Mercy will be leaving us, but can return at age 18. Yet I might not be alive then.”The London Daily Mirror December 8, 2008:
Her uncle, John Ngalande, reportedly said in August last year: 'We won't surrender her. They told us how another Malawi kid has had his life transformed by her. I don't want that attention. We want an ordinary life.'
Mr Ngalande said the girl - in an orphanage since her mum Mwandida Maunde, 18, died after giving birth - would be returned to them at six. Yesterday gran Anaphiri, 63, added: "When Mercy is no longer a baby we want her back. I do not want the money they said they'd give me.
No public word on how Mercy's family feels about the deal this time around. Some publications, including Marie Claire, March 27, 2009, however, are repeating John Ngalande August 2008 statement:
But not everybody seems to be over the moon about the move. Mercy’s uncle, John Ngalande, reportedly said in August last year: 'We won't surrender her. They told us how another Malawi kid has had his life transformed by her. I don't want that attention. We want an ordinary life.
And just to stir the pot, we learn in a March 23, report from the Mirror online that Madge just sacked David Banda's fulltime Australian nanny, known only as Angela, on the spot, after she turned in her notice:
All Madonna’s employees work incredibly long hours, so it’s no surprise that Angela had had enough. If you work for Madonna you are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There’s no such thing as a weekend.’
The timing could not be more inconvenient for Madonna, who confirmed last week that she is planning to return to Malawi in the next couple of months to adopt another child.
Sources say that because of the star’s punishing work schedule she is hugely dependent on a team of carers who look after her three children – Lourdes, Rocco and David, whom she adopted in Malawi two years ago.
I don't know about you, but I get plumb tuckered out thinking about being Madonna. It must really suck having such a hard job. The only harder job I can think of would be working for her.
Just when you think it can't get any worse, The Daily Mail gives us all sorts of interesting news (my emphasis):
Mercy has been handed over to Madonna's people, who are already at the lodge, and is being cared for by a nanny,' says the source.
'They are waiting for Madonna to arrive so mother and daughter can be united and then Madonna is expected to take Mercy with her when she leaves.'
And what of David Banda?
Reportedly, he'll accompany Madge to Malawi, though there's no guarantee he'll get to see his father and other family members, since she's studiously kept them apart for the last two years, despite public and private promises to the contrary:
Yesterday, David Banda’s biological father, Yohane Banda, revealed he has been told to prepare himself for a meeting with Madonna.
Mr Banda, 33, said officials from the pop star’s charity, Raising Malawi, had sent word of a visit, which would be ‘very soon’.
And what of Guy Ritchie? (left with David):
But the fact that Madonna is determined to adopt another child is also said to have infuriated Ritchie, who is already concerned about the custody arrangements involving the couple’s children.
A friend said yesterday: ‘Guy has already had to make plans to be around for most of the summer to look after the kids because Madonna is working. No one knows how she will cope without a nanny. She depends on her staff very heavily.’
Can somebody quick fax Madonna a copy of Red Thread or Slender Reed: Deconstructing Elzabeth Barholet's Mythology of International Adoption? Maybe she'll think it has something to do with Kabbalah and read it.
If you're come this far, here's a bonus. A short clip from Celeb TV that sums up the whole story.
Yesterday, Gary Staton, 36, (left) appeared before Douglas County Juvenile Court judge Elizabeth Crnkovich to settle guardianship of his two oldest sons, 16 and 17, "safe havened" last September at Creighton University Hospital during the Nebraska Fiasco. Crnkovich, who has worked with the family for the last six months, did not terminate Staton's parental rights, but appointed unnamed legal guardians for the boys " who are currently in foster care and attending high school together. Calling the Statons a "good family" Crnkovich told Gary Staton, "I've worked with you a long time and through that have known the challenges and have known the circumstances that brought us to this place... What you've done today, oddly enough is very generous."
On March 12, Staton voluntarily terminated parental rights to his seven youngest children, "safe havened" at the same time. Those children are currently living with his late wife's aunt in Lincoln. According to Action 3 News Omaha, she plans to adopt them.
After the hearing Action 3 decided to stalk Staton, forcing him to sneak out down the backstairs of his new house without comment. A reporter, however, managed to nail Staton's father-in-law, Jack Manzer, who said the kids are in school, making new friends, and doing OK.
"Any hard feelings toward Gary? I'd like if things would have come out better, but no he's their father and that's just the way it is."
If anything good came out of this case at all, it's that the Statons have been able to stay together, more or less, though I can't even imagine to begin to know how these kids feel.
I'll include additional details if they come out tomorrow.
In the meantime, still no expected newborns thrown into the maw
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Last night commenting on the entry that precedes this entry, Maryanne posted these same questions With Maryanne's permission I'm posting her entire comment below. The only changes Ive made is the addition of ***
In any state where I have followed legislation and written letters of support, up until now I have always been able to understand the messages put out by the sponsoring group. Whether I agreed or not, I knew what they were proposing. I also find CalOpen and Marley, Ron, 73Adoptee quite clear about their views. Not so with CARE.
I truly do not understand what CARE wants to do or what kind of legislation they want to introduce.I tried asking some questions on a list where members of CARE offered to answer questions. I am still waiting for any answer. Here are my questions:
From March 17, I wrote:
OK. Here are some questions, please answer here so that all may be enlightened.
***What records exactly are you talking about? In any state I know the OBC is at the Bureau of Vital Statistics with all the other birth certificates, except it is sealed. In states that have opened records recently, like New Hampshire and Maine, adoptees need only go to the Bureau of Vital stats to get their OBC like anyone else. In NJ Birth certificates are in two places, local town Bureau of Vital Stats and a central state office in the Capitol. Either is legal ID.
So is CARE also seeking court records, agency records, hospital records, other?
I have heard that legislators in CA "don't like to hear about rights, but would rather respond to needs and desires". So people supporting this bill are not to use rights-oriented language. Please explain. If it is not about adoptee rights, it is nothing. And I don't think legislators will be fooled by calling it something else.
***Would CARE accept a compromise that cuts out adoptees born after 1984? It seems from their web page that they are warning potential supporters that they might have to do this to get something/anything passed.
***Would CARE accept adoptees having to go to court to get their records, with the possibility a judge could deny access?
***Is there really a "secret strategy" different from all other states, that we have to trust CARE to implement, no matter what they are saying now? What happens if the secret strategy fails and things end up worse than they are now?
Thanks in advance for your honest answers to these questions, and for offering to explain. This is all very confusing.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Here's a sample:
My parents were told by the system that we would get all the information when I turned 18. It was a lie. Instead, I would get non-identifying information. What was blocked out with a black pen was completely arbitrary. An adult adoptee in Marin County got her non-id info on a small index card. It is hard to describe what it is like not being trusted with the facts of my own birth. It assumes as an adult I cannot handle the truth and be trusted to be responsible with it. In the eyes of the government I am either a perpetual infant or a potential stalker.
Also check out BB Church's latest on the California Catastrophe.
Note on picture: not a single doctor or social worker in the bunch.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
It speaks for itself, so I won't comment on it here.
Here's a snip:
They're [anti-aborts] always blatting on about how concerned they are for us, apparently because women aren't capable of making decisions without the gently guiding hand of all-knowing patriarchy, lest we irreparably damage our emotions and drown in a whirlpool of remorseful tears. They care ever so deeply about the long-term psychological effects of not having at least 10 months to consider whether or not to terminate a pregnancy, but no mention is ever made about women who actually do give up the baby. Seems to me that anyone who actually does so is lauded far and wide for Doing the Right Thing, but is simultaneously despised for being an unnatural uterus-bearing mechanism which has horribly malfunctioned. Where the fuck did that narrative come from, and why does everyone buy into it at some level?
Thanks to Maryanne for the heads up!
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Back in 1986 Bastardette was still working at the Ohio State University Theatre. One of her colleagues was actress, director, and OSU Theatre Associate Professor Joy Reilly. Her cousin was the legendary--even then--Shane MacGowan. While still a boy soprano, Shane had sung at Joy's first wedding, and she recalled him as a "sweet boy," who despite his later claims, came from an accomplished and intellectual family and had not been to Borstal. Well, that was a long time ago. Even then. Before he filed down his teeth.
So Shane and the Pogues were playing in Columbus and Joy and I went to the Newport for the show. Joy had a radio program on WOSU-AM and hoped to tape an interview with him, but it didn't happen, since Shane was--surprise!--drop dead drunk through the show. And maybe before. As I remember, we weren't exactly convinced he'd been that drunk while performing. He'd been known to play it up slopping beer all over the stage. But when we met him 45 minutes later at the Holiday Inn on the Lane, he was hammered.
With the hotel staff eyeing us like a couple of groupies, Shane demanded we take him out to drink. Since Shane (or was it we?) was in no shape to maneuver back up to the bars on High Street, we took (or rather, carried) him next door to the Varsity Club--the place where your parents go. A memorial to Woody Hayes. Where pot-bellied men and their wives wear matching scarlet and grey sweatsuits The Varsity was (and is) an hallucination without Shane. With him, we'd entered the fourth circle of hell.
For some reason we didn't get the boot, but it wasn't for Shane not trying. Tears, howls, poems, songs, and words of unspeakable vulgarities (for the Varsity) emanated from our table. We got a lot of dirty looks. I wanted to shout, there's s freaking genius sitting here, a veritable Brendan Behan, and you're worried about your ears burning! Shane took my hand while he wept in his beer (or whatever he was drinking) as he looked at a picture of Joy's kid. He went on poetically about family and love and the higher things of life. Upon learning I'd be in London about 6 weeks later, he gave me his address in Camden and asked me to meet up with him there. Oh, how I wanted to. He had no phone, but I feared I'd get to his door and he'd shout out "who the hell are you?" He had a girlfriend anyway. (I still have the address).
Ever the gentleman, Shane walked me to my car, broke once more in copious tears, and hugged and kissed me like I was his long lost love.
I shouldda gone to Camden and knocked on his door. Who knows. If I had, you'd not be reading this today. On second thought...you would.
So that's one of the reasons I'm posting this video for St. Patrick's Day.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past...George Orwell
In the last 48 hours, the California Adoption Reform Effort's Ministry of Truth has removed two CARE documents and their links from its increasingly anorexic website:
(1) a letter dated February 24, 2009, to Cal Assembly Judiciary Chair Mike Feuer, in which CARE president Jean Strauss writes bastards and adoptees out of their own rights movement and history
(2) a memo dated February 26, 2009, from CARE's pricey lobbyist cum Executive Director Stephanie Williams "explaining" to her constituency once more why AB 372 isn't what it seems to be... and, oh, but the way, we may just have to send some of you down shit creek without a paddle.
That's the beauty of the Internet. Shazaam! History can vanish with the hit of a button, but it can also be rescued with another. Bastards aren't stupid. As obsessive retrievers and collectors of our own stolen history, we rescue history from the dustbin and guard our treasures with the diligence of Mr. T. You can read what CARE doesn't want us to read here (letter to Feuer) and here (memo to membership).
BASTARDS NEED NOT APPLY
From the beginning, CARE has sought to identify itself, not with the self-led adoptee rights-rooted movement that has actually won battles restoring our right to records in our own states, but with the "professional” adoption class of pointy-nosed industrialists. From it's inception, CARE has dismissed the authentic voice of activist Bastardy:
Our effort is a professional one, not a grassroots one.
and attempted to replace it with the soothing voice of social engineers and "disinterested" third parties; that is, those whose interests are not the interests of bastards, but in continuing their rackets.
CARE blatantly hustles "professional" membership on its website: "adoption professional," social worker, education professional, psychologist/therapist, legal services/law firm, health care professional.
CARE has sought to minimize the bastard voice while paternalisticly claiming the opposite:
I [Jean Strauss] know many of you are interested in being involved in access legislation because you believe access to your original information (all of it) is your constitutional right, and the constitutional right of your children. I am with you. Yet I believe we must use tools that will help us get the job done. The language of 'constitutional and civil rights' commonly used in access legislation appeals stands in direct opposition to the California Constitution. If we use this approach, we will, I have become convinced, fail.
I [Jean Strauss] have often cited a quote of Thoreau's when trying to help people understand that triad members are the voices which should be listened to as adoption policy is revised.
To highly paraphrase Thoreau, To navigate an ocean we should seek the counsel of shipwrecked mariners rather than find our way based on the advice of those who've never been out of sight of land.
Our lobbyist and author are the mariners who must chart this course. They know, much better than any of us, how to navigate these waters. Only through their wise counsel and honesty will we arrive at our destination.
CARE ISSUES US AN AMENDED BIRTH CERTIFICATE
In its attempt to de-bastardize and legitimate itself, (or I suppose what CARE considers "professionalize" itself) CARE washed itself white as the driven slow, and has now issued an amended birth certificate to the adoptee rights movement. According to CARE, bastards did not give birth to our own civil rights movement. Instead, "professionals" did! No doubt we should be grateful for their "care."
In her letter to Rep. Mike Feuer, now disappeared from the CARE website, (also passed around to SB 372 supporters) Jean Strauss wrote:
Nationwide, there is a movement to create access to an adoptee's original identity. This is a direct result of medical professionals and social workers recognizing that hiding an authentic identity from an adoptee for an entire lifetime is neither healthy nor necessary.
Funny thing, I was one of the midwives in 1997 at Birth of a Bastard Nation in Chicago. I don’t remember Bastard Nation popping out of the head or some unspeakable part of CWLA or NASW, and I've never seen or heard a representative from either organization testify on behalf of records access. Sure. some individuals in the profession have supported us, but they did not create us.
What I do remember are Shea Grimm (r), Damsel Plum, Helen Hill, BB Church, Caroline Evaine Shaw, Steve White, Ian Hageman (teaching us what to do if arrested), Deb Schwartz, Michelle Hilbe, Mirah Riben, Deni Castelucci, Beda Warrick, Jackie Patrick Fox, myself, and a roomful of Beautiful Bastards launching the second wave of bastard rights, carrying on the work started by bastards Jean Paton, Florence Fisher, and Betty Jean Lifton. There wasn't a single professional there, unless you want to count San Francisco activist lawyer Randy Shaw who first put the idea of a ballot initiative in our heads. But then we didn't offer a therapy room.
As BB Church wrote in his matchless response to CARE's re-write of our history, What is Jean Strauss SMOKING?
I defy Jean Strauss to name one social worker or medical professional who has ever led an effort to open records anywhere. Sure, some have allied themselves to the issue, even the CWLA has deemed "openness" a best practice, but it has been adult adoptees, beginning with Jean Paton, who have effectively advocated for THEIR OWN INTERESTS.
The professional class have been "lagging indicators", to borrow a phrase from the front pages...
The danger in presenting this factoid to legislators as foundational is that this alleged "recognition" by the gods of medicine and social welfare is chimerical and hardly uniform.
CRUSING DOWN THE RIVER
While Jean Strauss has been busy Sovietizing history, her colleague Stephanie Williams pursued the task of sending out a memo to CARE members and supporters explaining away the inconsistencies between what CARE says and what CARE does.
Williams explains, rightly, that AB 372 is a placeholder bill, submitted under deadline, to be amended into another form later. There is no shame in a placeholder. It's done all the time. It is a a shame, however, that somebody at CARE didn't take the time to explain this earlier, instead of insulting CARE membership and visitors to its website when AB 372 was introduced:
a word about reading a bill: Legislative language, and the language of statutes, can be confusing. The language is based upon existing legal code which encompasses thousands of pages that are all interrelated. The change that we are requesting will allow adult adoptees over the page of 18 access to their original record of birth. The text herein is written by the legislative counsel for the California Assembly and is written for lawyers, not for lay people. What's important is that it creates a legal right for adult adoptees to get their birth records.)
Not surprisingly the above "explanation" has mysteriously disappeared from CARE's website, along with the other embarrassing documents.
Williams explains in her memo why some California adoptees will remain legal pariahs:
She starts by assuring us that CARE believes that overcoming California's Privacy Initiative 1 in the state's constitution, but in the next paragraph turns tail:
Our most serious problem appears to be the birth parent disclosure veto of authorization choice which was added to the law in 1983. This raises a constitutional issues concerning access to those adopted after 1983. It is possible that we will have to compromise in some way with respect to these adoptees. We want all our supporters to be aware of this possibility now If other problems arise, we will keep you posted.
So...at a minimum, if by some miracle CARE gets their half-assed bill passed, Cal adoptees born after 1983 will probably be left without a paddle. But that's always been the score with CARE and it's weepy anti-rights mission of "needs," "desires" and obc access for "as many adoptees as possible."
CARE's "leadership" needs to read Damsel Plum's seminal The Psychology of Self-Defeatism in Adoption Reform written in the summer of 1997 before bastards anywhere had a victory.
Don't apologize for daring to want what everyone else has. Develop your allies and choose your advocates carefully. Learn the facts, study the tactics of successful grassroots movements, educate others, and reach out to the public at large. Don't be cowed by arguments that you have no rights and are lucky to get anything at all. If someone is on a legislative committee, looking for a judgeship, or otherwise stands to gain politically from compromising your civil rights, perhaps you should think twice about having this person as your organization's advocate, regardless of their triad position. Once you get the word out, empower yourself and your group, you will find that legislators will be more willing to take on your cause for the positive publicity and votes they stand to gain as civil rights advocates.
Adoptees - the time has come for us to take the lead in the issue which most impacts us, and over which we had no decision. Come out of the closet and don't be ashamed that you are adopted. Knowledge is power. Conviction and self-respect form the armor which will protect us from the lies thrown into the fray by our enemies and the ignorant ones who are manipulated by them. Education and outreach are the swords with which we can cut down the briar of secrets and lies set up by who fear the truth and profit from lies. Defeatism is a self-fulfilling prophecy. We are not children. We are not second-class citizens. We are not shameful. Real open records is reasonable. It's our job to make it happen the right way.
Addenda: As I was checking links, Stephanie Williams' memo reappeared on CARE's page, this time dated March 10 with one small but interesting change:
The original memo read: The bill has been assigned to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.
The new memo reads: The bill will be assigned to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.
Normally that correction would be no big deal, but since CARE tomfools with history, we can only wonder.
For another analysis on CARE's revisionist history see Baby Love Child, C.A.R.E.'s lie; writing adopted people out of our own history.
b&w photos: courtesy of Deni and John Castelucci; People Magazine, courtesy of Charles Filius.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Stephen Waldman, editor-in-chief of BeliefNet posed the question in yesterday's Huffington Post
The whole political debate has assumed that there were only two choices -- keeping the baby and having an abortion. Given the long waiting lists of people trying to adopt, wouldn't offering the baby for adoption have been just as compassionate as raising the child alone?
And boy, is he getting dumped on! Some of the biggest dumpers, in fact, are adoptive parents. Janice Taylor, another HuffPo blogger responded:
My daughter is adopted,and I think I'm going to surprise you with what I am about to say. I believe that - whenever possible, teenager or not - the child should stay with their mother. The teen mother will need support, for sure - but she doesn't have to get married. Bristol is a good example of a young mother who has plenty of support, with or without Levi.
I'm happily surprised that so many responders stuck a fork in Waldman and his offensive presumption that Bristol Palin should have been a "compassionate" incubator for the childless and desperate.
Bristol's decision to be a single mom is nobody's business but hers. I wish her the best.
Heads up to Mirah Riben for this story. Mirah posted her own incisive comments. I'm heading back over there now to post my own.
March 13, 2009 10:99 AM:
Addenda: After I put up this entry something else occurred to me. The title of Waldman's piece Should Bristol Palin's Baby Have Been Put Up for Adoption?"
Waldman wrote Bristol out of the narrative, making her the passive "birthmother" who has or should have no say in the disposition of her son. Bristol doesn't exist for Waldman. Waldman, in fact, de-babys her. I generally don't like this term, which I think was coined by Di Welfare, but in this case it fits. Bristol--and her baby--are the attainment of someone else's desire, possessing no humanity or rights of their own. And this is ugly.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
GARY STATON TERMINATES PARENTAL RIGHTS
According to Omaha Action 3 News, Gary Saton, 36, the widower who "safe havened 9 of his 10 children (the oldest is a legal adult) at Creighton University Medical Center last September, went to court Monday (March 9) to formally terminate his parental rights. Since their abandonment, the seven youngest children, ages 2-15, have been living with an aunt (sometimes described as a great aunt) in Lincoln who will remain their legal guardian until each turns 19. The two oldest boys are, at their own request, living in foster care in Omaha so they can finish high school together. Staton was granted visitation. He planned to visit his former family in Lincoln Monday evening. No word otherwise, on Staton's current situation except he has moved from the family's home which has been condemned by the city.
Last October, a week after their "legal abandonment" and placement in Lincoln, the seven youngest Statons became the subject of a tug-of-war between their aunt/ HHS and their court appointed advocate, Thomas Incontro. Douglas County Juvenile Court Judge Elizabeth Crnkovich (otherwise a voice of reason during the Nebraska Fiasco) found the placement inappropriate after Incontro complained that some of the kids, living with the aunt only a couple of days, were sleeping on air mattresses or sharing mattress on the floor, none had been enrolled in a new school, and the state wasn't "helping enough."
To hear Mr. Incontro and Judge Crnkovich talk (she reportedly said the children were in "unlivable conditions), you'd think we are all be prepared for the sudden arrival of seven abandoned children into our homes, complete with beds, therapists and school supplies. I bet Incontro and Crnkovich are!
This nuttery is from an October 1, 2008 broadcast on KETV:
The Lancaster County judge ordered the children removed because their aunt's home didn't have enough room for them.
Three of the kids were sleeping on the same mattress and two others shared an air mattress. None of them are in school because they have moved to a different county, said their attorney, Tom Incontro.
"They wanted to stay together and they wanted to stay with family," said Todd Landry, the Director of Health and Human Services. "We had a safe family member they could go to on a short term basis."Health and Human Services workers checked out the children's great aunt and found the home was too small to house seven children."We knew they were going to, very temporarily, on a very short term basis, be sharing a bed," Landry said
Incontro said in court Wednesday that the aunt who stepped forward to help the kids is not prepared to care for them. Judge Elizabeth Crnkovich ordered them to be moved by the end of the day.
"I think we might have rushed this a bit," Incontro said. "I think in this case we hurried up, got that done and didn't put into place the things the kids need immediately."
But later Wednesday, the Department of Health and Humans Services appealed the judge's decision, saying it's in the kids' best interest to stay together and live with a relative who cares about them
"They are happy to be together with family," said Landry.
The Staton kids again have been shuffled into foster care, which is where they started after their father, Gary Staton, dropped them off at Creighton University Medical Center last week. Staton avoided charges because his actions were protected under Nebraska's controversial Safe Haven law."It bothers me," Incontro said. "The kids went back to family, now may not be with family for a few days, and that concerns me. But if it's not appropriate, it's not appropriate."
Compare these two:
Todd Landry: They wanted to stay together and they wanted to stay with family. We had a safe family member they could go to on a short term basis...They are happy to be together with family."
Thomas Incontro "I think in this case we hurried up, got that done and didn't put into place the things the kids need immediately."
Let's get this straight. We are not talking about long-term deprivation, but emergency shelter for a family of seven abandoned children, suddenly separated from their father and 3 older siblings, and whose mother is dead, According to the child advocate and judge, it is more important for children to sleep in their "own" beds in strangers' homes immediately after a family tragedy, than remain together in safe surroundings with a loving family member. Air mattresses! Oh my! Did neither Incontro of Crmkovich go to college?
Just before Christmas, Judge Crmkovich reversed her order after DHS and the aunt improved the "living" situation and the Staton kids were given into their aunt's custody. Gary Staton never showed an interest in regaining custody, though he has attended hearings, therapy sessions and stayed in contact with the kids.
TODD WE HARDLY KNEW YE: TODD LANDRY HEADS TO TEXAS
To no one's surprise, Todd Landry, director of Nebraska's Children and Family Services, and the official state voice of the Nebraska Fiasco, has announced he will soon depart for more friendly climes...or as he puts it "I have a great opportunity come my way, and I decided it was the best thing for me and my family." No doubt.
On April 1, Landry will become the executive director of the Lena Pope Home a private child and family agency in Fort Worth, Texas. He served well, if not so wisely, in Nebraska for 20 months.
Back in September 2008, Landry gained the opprobrium of stressed-out parents, under-staffed professionals, and shocked-I-tell-you-shocked politicians with his "insensitive" statements about the state's big kid dumpers. As soon as Landry released the dubiously titled, Safe Haven Law Does Not Absolve Parents of Responsibility press release and made subsequent public comments implying that dumpers are lazy, irresponsible, and immature, I figured he was out.
Now that Landry is on the last train to Fort Worth, pols who made the mess he was charged with covering up and cleaning up, are weeping copious crocodile tears:
Sen. Tim Gray chair of the Health and Human Service Committee called Landry's departure "a loss for Nebraska."
"Sen. Amanda Gill, head of the task force looking into issues related to "safe haven" law, although critical of Landry during the Fiasco, praised him for his current cooperation in finding ways to help troubled children.
Sen. Gwen Howard, who could hardly keep her socks on during the Fiasco, told the press, "The safe-haven issue was certainly difficult for everyone. I do believe that Todd Landry wanted to do a good job."
Nobody, of course, has complained that on Landry's watch the state collected $273 million in child support payments, an all-time high. But, then, enforcing child support doesn't make the Unicam look stupid.
Landry should write a book: 20 Months of Nebraska Hell: My Life as Collateral Damage
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Despite their protests that Nebraska's "safe haven" was their last resort and they wanted their kids back...., here's a rundown from yesterday' Omaha World-Hearld on other cases. No names published:
- Ten parents are participating in Juvenile Court proceedings and services in the hope of getting their children returned.
- Seven other parents or guardians have not attended court hearings to pursue being reunited with the children. Prosecutors probably will try to terminate their parental rights.
- Two people rescinded legal guardianships, but in both cases, the biological parents had not had their rights terminated. At least one parent in each case has been involved in court.
Oh, and in case anybody is wondering, not one glassy-eyed, desperate mother has wandered into any Nebraska hospital since its new and improved law went into effect to save her "unwanted newborn" from the trash.. Nor has any newborn been dumpsterized. Obviously, somebody's not doing their job!
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
I spent the entire weekend with a throbbing jaw and head and had emergency dental surgery yesterday. So, I've been out of it. I still am. I'm writing a short note, though, to send you to others, who are covering CARE's latest shenanigans and re-write of history. I should have something up tomorrow.
CARE has written and distributed the biggest fantasy since Bill Pierce's hallucinogenic Factbook 3. According to CARE, the adoptee rights movement:
is a direct result of medical professionals and social workers recognizing that hiding an authentic identity from an adoptee for an entire lifetime is neither healthy nor necessary.
This doesn't even rank as good revisionist history.
Please go to:
Baby Love Child
and CARE updatesitself to read their own words.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Our Sara lost to Cook County Commissioner and reformer Mike Quigley. While Feigenholtz and her followers like to think of her as "progressive" (she was endorsed by the National Organization for Women, Emily's List, Equality Illinois, and SEIU), since the Obama victory in November she's been demoted to old school Dem. She's no Obama though she plays one. (Neither is Obama, but I'll save that for another day!) And it didn't help that she went negative on old friend Quigley.
For those who care about these things, here's a ward breakdown of the votes.
Last night, Chicago Sun-Times columnist Carol Marin wrote of the voter rebellion
In a district the Machine has controlled since 1958 -- except for two aberrant years -- with congressmen named Rostenkowski, Blagojevich and Emanuel, the 5th was the ultimate insider's seat.
What exactly did an outsider like Quigley have that would change that?
After a presidential campaign that captured our imagination and vaulted a black man from Illinois onto the global stage, in just one short, miserable month this state went back to being the corruption capital of the Western world.
Our governor had been grabbed by the FBI.
Our new U.S. senator, appointed by the recently grabbed governor, couldn't tell a straight story about how he got the job.
And every single day, the economy in Cook County -- home of the highest sales tax in the nation -- was tanking.There is nothing more Bastardette would like to see than Feigenholtz get outta Springfield. After spending 14 years in the Illinois House, pretending to support adoptee civil rights, Feigenholtz, who is adopted and has her own information, needs to be put out to pasture. She has repeatedly claimed to support unrestricted access to original birth certificates but waffled on introducing and supporting clean bills, gone back on promises, and refused to communicate with activists. When the going gets tough...she gets going. Her latest "pro-adoptee" bid is HB 4623, a beef-up of the pocket-lining Illinois Reunion Registry and CI system.
Bastardette is happy Feigenholtz lost. She is also unhappy that her loss is a loss for Illinois adoptees who remain saddled with this obstructionist hypocrite.
Feigenholtz "owns" adoption in the Illinois legislature, making it difficult for pols, with less juice to introduce and pass clean bills. Until she's evicted, Illinois will probably remain in a holding pattern.
For more on Illinois adoptee rights go to:
Illinois Adoption Reform Resource page
Bastard Granny Annie
Rights of Adoptees
The Daily Bastardette also has several articles on Illinois and Feigenholtz
Monday, March 02, 2009
TENNESSEE: REP. DEBERRY TO PUBLIC: MEET ME BEHIND CLOSED DOORS. REFUSES TO DISCUSS PROPOSED GAY ADOPTION BAN IN PUBLIC
We all know about adoption and child welfare secrecy:
anonymous first parents
anonymous adoptive parents
anonymous foster parents
state confiscated identities
forged government documents
closed juvenile court hearings
sealed juvenile court records
anonymous tips to CPS
Late Discovery adopttees
anonymous state-promoted child abandonment baby dump laws
And just when you think it can't get any more secret, we have Rep. John J. DeBerry, Jr, and Sen. Paul Stanley who don't think it's the media's business why they've introduced restrictive adoption bills (HB 605 and SB 78) in the Tennessee legislature. The companion bills ( I can't find the texts, only the summaries) ban unwed cohabiting couples from adopting. Who this really means, of course, is gays and lesbians. "Those people" never come up in the bills' language, though, except for a passing reference to Tennessee's constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Last year these same Junior Claghorns introduced a more strict gay and lesbian ban. Go here for background.
Most Tennesseans thought the issue died after an October 2007 ruling by the state Attorney General that there was no legal basis in state law to ban gay couples from adopting. For reasons apparent to no one but themselves and their best friends at the Family Action Council of Tennessee, who never met a queer that didn't make them break out in hives, the Junior Claghorns revived the issue last month with their proposals. Advocates of the bills say the AG and the Department of Children's Services misinterpreted Tennessee law. David Fowler, president of FACT opined "that most lawmakers and ordinary people understood the adoption policy's intention to give children to straight, married couples" before the AG's opinion.
Unlike most politicians who are more than happy to publicize their keen lawmaking skills and shake glad hands with the public, especially in November, the Junior Claghorns have scurried into their hidey-holes at the War Memorial. Sen. Stanley is just plain not available for comment. Rep. DeBerry, Jr. however, takes a unique approach. According to The Tennessean:
DeBerry said there were aspects of his reasons for sponsoring the bill that he was unwilling to discuss with a reporter. DeBerry was also unwilling to say what sort of family structure he believes is best for children.
"If a member of the public would like to know my reasons, they can contact me, come into my office, he said. "We will shut the door, and I would be happy to share my reasons."
Rep. John J. DeBerry-Claghorn:
Well, isn't that nice! Not only is adoption a secret process, people in Tennessee can't even find out why lawmakers have introduced major adoption legislation, short of setting up a meeting behind closed doors, with the House sponsor. Actually, I kinda like that idea. Let DeBerry be so tied up in one-on-one meetings with angry queers, singles, and adoption reformers everyday that he can't get out of his office to cause mischief elsewhere in the building.
We all know why the Junior Claghorns keep introducing these bills, but why don't they just admit it? Come on dudes. Be loud and proud! Does DeBerry think that the press asking why he's sponsoring HB 605 is an "invasion of his privacy?" We're talking about adoption,a nd anything less than murky, of cousre, is protected by special rights. If first parents have a right to hide, why not lawmakers?
According to DCS, if the the Junior Claghorns prevail, the pool of adults from which the state can draw adoptive parents, already small, would shrink, causing available children in the state system to spend about 180 extra days in state care and cost Tennessee taxpayers $5,000,000 and an additional loss of $3,500,000 in federal funds.
Despite the real Senator Claghorn's admonition, "It's a joke son. It's a joke," it's not a joke when politicians shut-out the media and tell constituents to meet with them behind closed doors to discuss what's up.
73adoptee, has a very important blog today: Compromise Legislation: Why Some Adoptees and Not Others? In fact, it is one of the most important adoptablogs I've ever read. If you are on the bastard battlefield, this is something to read, print out, and carry with you. Let it become part of you.
Why Some Adoptees And Not Others? goes to the core of our current mess: the bastardization of bastards...by our so-called friends. 73adoptee tears the foundation out from under adopta deformers, who in their rat race to the legislature to get any piececrap law passed on their watch-- tramp over the interests and rights of Joe and Jane Bastard. You know, class traitors like CARE (California) ABC (Massachusetts) and Illinois Feigenholtz do-bees. What happens when they get left behind on their own device never seems to cross their minds.
Here's a snip:
Isn't that what conditional legislation does? Pits adoptees against one another, turns us (again!) into guinea pigs racing on the experimental wheel of adoption. The facts of our origins are dangled like tasty tidbits if we only sell out our fellow lab rats. I was under this spell when I thought getting the Illinois CI program to accept interstate adoptees was actually helping my fellow adoptees. Now I know what it's like to be left behind. Every society needs its lepers, its outcasts. Maybe bastardizing fellow bastards makes some adoptees feel good about themselves. It reaffirms their status as Good Adoptees, practiced players of the Adoption Game, in contrast to their Bad Adoptee counterparts, the ungrateful question-askers. I see a similar trend with our mothers. Good Birth Mothers make no waves. Bad ones dare think about their surrendered offspring or (egads!) search for them, and the REALLY bad ones have the audacity to voice their opinions on adoption themselves rather than letting people like the NCFA do it for them.
And here is 73 adoptee's jackhammer at the cornerstone of deformer thought: baby steps:
We don't understand that small steps have to be taken. To quote the Fourth Doctor, a little patience goes a long way; too much patience goes absolutely nowhere. Or if you prefer: When you keep dividing a number by half you will never get to zero. You will end up dividing by half for infinity. The analogy in adoption is conditional legislation that takes up dozens of pages instead of one straightforward sentence. Do you want to legislate for each and every special case? Because there are no standard adoptions, no rules, just one great big hodgepodge of interstate and international adoptions. Keep trying if you want, Sisyphus, but it's pointless. There is only one way to treat all participants in all adoptions the same and that is to equalize access....
The lines are finally being drawn. NCFAnoids and deformers both seek to control bastards and their rights. Who, then, is the real enemy? NCFA, ACLU, the Bishops, Right to Life, whom we have already defeated in Oregon, Alabama, New Hampshire and Maine or the deformers who year after year after year toss out compromises like candy to toddlers at a parade: disclosure and contact vetoes, CIs, and registries in the name of "progress."
Beating the "official enemy" is very doable. They are consistent. They never surprise. They don't lie about their policies no matter how crack-brained they are. Deformers, unfortunately, go any which way the wind blows, lick crumbs from each other's boots, and can only be trusted to not be trusted.
The truth is more states would probably be open today if compromisers would baby step out of the way and stop negating our rights in favor of favors. Every minute spent fighting bad deform bills is a minute that won't be spent on clean bills. Ask for what you want. If you don't have the nerve, crawl back under your white picket fence and let the people who aren't afraid, ask for you.
On a related note, Sandy Young, over on Musing Mother has a link to the SMACC site and its nifty little survey Should the NCFA or Evan B. Donaldson Institute speak on behalf of mothers who have lost their children to adoption? I cast my vote last night and it was something like 26-1 in favor of....
Addenda, 3/3/2009, 9:52 AM: BB Church has excellent commentary on Why Some Adoptees and Not Others here.